Fools (1970, directed by Tom Gries)

What the Hell, 1970?

In this self-conciously hip and with-it portrait of life in San Francisco at the tail end of the hippie era, Jason Robards plays Matthew South, a veteran B-movie actor who is fed up with everyday life and who is prone to long monologues about how the machines are taking over.  (Just imagine how Matthew would feel about the world today.)  When Matthew gets into an argument with two people in a park, Anais Appleton (Katharine Ross) comes to his rescue and soon, they’re in the middle of a falling in love montage.  Actually, there are several falling in love montages and they’re almost all scored by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.  It’s easy listening with a hippie tinge.

Fools follows Matthew and Anais as they wander around San Francisco and have several strange encounters, none of which make much sense.  For instance, there’s a scene where two FBI agents suddenly burst into the room and then admit that they’re at the wrong address.  Why is that scene there?  What does it mean?  Later, Matthew and Anais go to a dentist and they listen to a patient try to seduce her psychiatrist (who is played by Mako).  Why is that scene there?  What does any of it mean?  Everywhere that Matthew and Anais go, they see evidence that society is dumb and that the answer to all life’s problems is a love song from Kenny Rogers.  Matthew never stops talking and Anais never stops looking pretty (she’s Katharine Ross after all) but neither ever becomes a strong enough character to ground Fools in any sort of reality.  It’s a movie that preaches nonconformity while so closely imitating A Thousand Clowns and Petulia that the entire thing feels like plagiarism.

Anais has a husband, an emotionally distant lawyer named David (Scott Hylands).  David isn’t prepared to let Anais leave him, no matter how tired she is of their marriage.  He hires a detective to follow Anais around.  It all leads to an act of violence that doesn’t fit the mood of anything that’s happened before.  Cue another falling love montage before the end credits role.

Fools is one of those films that probably would never have been made without the success of Easy Rider.  Everyone wanted a piece of the counterculture in 1970 and Fools tries so hard that it’s painful to watch.  Of course, neither Matthew nor Anais are really hippies.  They do eventually come across some hippies playacting in the street.  One of them is played by future David Lynch mainstay Jack Nance so that’s pretty cool.  Otherwise, Fools deserves to stay in 1970.


Song of the Day: Piume di Cristallo by Ennio Morricone

Today’s song of the day comes from the soundtrack of Dario Argento’s 1970 film, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage.  Not only was this film Argento’s first as a director but it was also his first collaboration with the great Ennio Morricone.

From Ennio Morricone, here is a piece of music that perfectly matches the creepy and twisty feel of Argento’s first film.  Here is Piume di Cristallo:

Previous Entries In Our Tribute To Morricone:

  1. Deborah’s Theme (Once Upon A Time In America)
  2. Violaznioe Violenza (Hitch-Hike)
  3. Come Un Madrigale (Four Flies on Grey Velvet)
  4. Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence)
  5. The Strength of the Righteous (The Untouchables)
  6. So Alone (What Have You Done To Solange?)
  7. The Main Theme From The Mission (The Mission)
  8. The Return (Days of Heaven)
  9. Man With A Harmonic (Once Upon A Time In The West)
  10. The Ecstasy of Gold (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  11. The Main Theme From The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  12. Regan’s Theme (The Exorcist II: The Heretic)
  13. Desolation (The Thing)
  14. The Legend of the Pianist (The Legend of 1900)
  15. Theme From Frantic (Frantic)
  16. La Lucertola (Lizard In A Woman’s Skin)
  17. Spasmodicamente (Spasmo)
  18. The Theme From The Stendhal Syndrome (The Stendhal Syndrome)
  19. My Name Is Nobody (My Name Is Nobody)

Lifetime Film Review: I Was Lorena Bobbitt (dir by Danishka Esterhazy)

In 1993, a woman named Lorena Bobbitt made national news when she used a kitchen knife to chop off her husband’s penis, which she then tossed into a field, where it was later found and reattached.  During Lorena’s trial, both the defense and the prosecution conceded that John Wayne Bobbitt (and what a name, right?) was an abusive and selfish husband who probably deserved a lot worse than just losing his penis for a few hours.  Lorena, meanwhile, was portrayed as being a crazed psycho, with many claiming that she was motivated not by years of abuse but instead by jealousy.  After spending months at the center of a media freakshow, Lorena was eventually found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.  John Wayne Bobbitt was subsequently acquitted on charges that he had raped Lorena the night that she castrated him.

Subsequently, John Wayne Bobbitt held a number of jobs, was charged with more crimes, and had a brief career as an adult film actor.  Lorena attempted to stay out of the spotlight, reverted to using her birth name of Gallo, and was only briefly in the news in 1997 when she was arrested for striking her mother.

However, this previous Memorial Day, Lorena Gallo returned to the public eye as the host of I Was Lorena Bobbitt.  One of Lifetime’s “ripped from the headlines” features, the film’s format is similar to 2017’s I Am Elizabeth Smart, which featured the real Elizabeth Smart talking about her kidnapping along with dramatized scenes feature Alana Boden in the title role.  I Was Lorena Bobbitt features scenes of Lorena (played by Dani Montalvo) both before and after what the film refers to as being “the incident.”  We watch as she first meets John Wayne Bobbitt (Luke Humphrey) and how she is initially charmed by the handsome marine just to discover, after their marriage, that he’s actually a porn-addicted, abusive monster.  The real Lorena appears on-screen to provide context for what we’ve just seen.  For instance, when the movie’s Lorena gives her statement to the police, the real Lorena appears and explains that the reason why the statement was so awkward was because she was still struggling to learn how to express herself in English.  The film makes the very good and too often overlooked point that Lorena’s statement was subsequently used to paint her as being a psychopath by reporters who should have understood that not only was Lorena in shock but she was also being forced to describe a very personal experience in a language in which she wasn’t fluent.

Unfortunately, despite those few moments that do provide some valuable context to what really happened that night and afterwards, I Was Lorena Bobbitt is still a bit of a mess.  The filmmakers tell the story out of chronological order, mixing in flashbacks with flashforwards and, while I can understand why they made that narrative choice, it doesn’t really add much to the story.  In fact, it gets a bit distracting as we try to keep track of where we are in Lorena’s story.  Luke Humphrey gives a properly loathsome performance as John and Dani Montalvo gives a good performance as the young Lorena but the actual Lorena is not a particularly compelling narrator.  One gets the feeling that the film would have worked better if the real Lorena had stayed off-screen.

In the end, despite its flaws, I Was Lorena Bobbitt deserves credit for examining the real issues underneath a story that feels as if it was tailor-made to appeal to America’s tabloid sensibility.  The film shows how Lorena was gaslighted and brainwashed into believing that the abuse she suffered was her fault.  It shows how an abuser can be charming when he feels that he needs to be and it also show how Lorena was more vilified for her actions than John was for his.  It’s a film with an important message, even if the execution is sometimes lacking.

Music Video Of The Day: Unemployment Line by Creed Bratton (2013, dir by Zach Mann)

Yes, this is the same Creed who we all know and love from playing a version of himself on The Office.  While everyone knows that Creed was a musician before he became an actor, it seems to be less well-known that he continued to record music while appearing on the show and after the final episode.

This is a heartfelt song and, if you go over to YouTube, you can read Creed’s story about what inspired this song and why he recorded it.  As Creed writes in the video’s description: See the GOOD in people, the value of our connection to one another, and realize that the ailments of an unemployed society are not a result of laziness, they are a product of loneliness.

So, from Creed Bratton, here is Unemployment Line.